"Chu Li! You're finally back!" Xiao Tieying stood up and greeted him with a cheerful smile.
"Master Xiao!" Chu Li made a closed fist salute.
Everyone made in the room a closed fist salute and bowed to him. Chu Li returned every single one of them. It was a lively scene.
The husky young man was smiling as he made a closed fist salute as well.
Chu Li stopped and eyed him doubtfully for a moment, then cast his gaze at Xiao Tieying.
"Hehe, come, allow me to introduce to you the new High Official who has just joined the Public House. His name is Jing Zhixue. Chu Li, don't think that Jing Zhixue is merely a young man, he is already a Grandmaster!" Xiao Tieying smiled.
"It is my pleasure to meet you." Chu Li smiled as he made a closed fist salute.
"Come, take a seat!" Xiao Tieying nudged Chu Li to the main seat.
Chu Li tried to reject him but eventually sat down.
Jing Zhixue was seated in the last seat of the table. He saw how Chu Li casually sat down in the main seat and how the other High Officials did not seem to mind. He found it detestable.
Chu Li was merely an Innate Master at his age but he still dared to put on airs. He was looking down at the other Grandmasters, himself included!
Xiao Tieying smiled. "Chu Li, you've probably learned a lot from your travels and experiences? I can see how your temperament has changed – you seem more mature and reserved now!"
"I went through some challenges." smiled Chu Li.
Linquan ordered the maids to serve the dishes and wine and then filled each cup one by one.
"Here, a toast to Chief Chu, for travels and experiences are a hardship! It is worth celebrating that Chu Li returned unharmed and a glad tiding to the Public House!" Xiao Tieying extended his silver cup, laughing as he stood up.
Xiao Tieying usually had Sister Xiao Qi as his brains and would listen to her advice. Now that she was gone, he had lost his way and instead sought guidance from Chu Li. But Chu Li had left as well, leaving him overwrought and exhausted.
Now that Chu Li was finally back, Xiao Tieying could finally relax.
Everyone smiled and extended their cups.
Chu Li smiled and finished his drink in a single gulp.
Looking at how Chu Li put on his airs, even treating Master Xiao with such an arrogant attitude, Jing Zhixue sneered to himself. Chu Li did not know his place. No matter his contribution, he was still a subordinate. How could he be on equal footing with Master Xiao?
Jing Zhixue stood up, smiling with his cup extended. "Chief Chu, here's a drink to you as a form of apology!"
Chu Li smiled as he looked at him. "Oh--? Did you do anything wrong?
"I honestly did not know that Protector Jiang was a friend of Chief Chu. I regretted it after the incident but I was afraid that he would misunderstand if I paid him a visit to apologize!" Jing Zhixue sighed, shaking his head.
Chu Li smiled. "Brother Jiang's skill is unrefined, and there is no excuse for him losing. It, too, is understandable that you are not familiar with the Public House's rules since you have just arrived."
"No, no, of course, I am clear with the rules. I was a little tipsy back then and could not control myself. I wanted to scare him a little and I thought he would dodge. It was a joke that was supposed to be harmless but I never thought that he was unable to dodge. It is my fault, my fault!" Jing Zhixue was quick to stop him from continuing. He waved his hand and smiled.
Chu Li fiddled the silver cup in his hand and smiled. "Oh, so it was a joke. If so, I would like to know what did High Official Jing say to cause Brother Jiang such anger to the point that he would dare to fly at you, High Official?"
"Haha, just a few jokes." Jing Zhixue applauded him for having a sharp tongue. He was mad at Chu Li for being so overbearing.
Chu Li smiled. "It was about dissing me, wasn't it? You bad-mouthed me behind my back but can still joke around in front of me. I truly admire your sophistication!"
Jing Zhixue smirked and said, "I drank a bit too much that day and made some mistakes. It was only drunken gibberish. Chief Chu would not be offended by that, right?"
"I do not mind. I have enough tolerance not to charge someone guilty because of their words. There is no harm in bad-mouthing me but I heard that you said something about Lady Xiao Qi as well?" Chu Li had a smile on his face the entire time.
"That is misinformation and rumors! Definitely rumors!" Jing Zhixue hastily waved his hands. He saw Xiao Tieying's expression darken and realized that he had messed up. "I just blurted it out but someone with ill intentions heard it and thought I was bad-mouthing Lady Xiao Qi," said Jing Zhixue hurriedly.
"I see… I wonder where High Official Jing is from?" Chu Li nodded.
"Jing Zhou." Jing Zhixue let out a breath of relief. He was close to not being able to take it.
Chu Li indeed knew that the gossip was about him. How smart and witty!
Chu Li asked slowly, "Then where does your Master come from?"
"Sigh… I do not have a Master but instead, I had a miraculous encounter. I once fell into a ravine and had a dream. I gained these martial arts skills after waking up. I am unable to make neither head nor tail of it!" Jing Zhixue looked embarrassed but a little proud at the same time.
Everyone looked at him in surprise.
Xiao Tieying laughed and asked, "Did something like that really happen?!"
"Even I wouldn't believe it. But yes, it actually happened!" said Jing Zhixue in embarrassment.
Chu Li wore a forced smile on his face. "So High Official Jing did not go to any other Public House before coming here? Our Public House does not attract the attention of most Grandmasters nowadays, it would only be sensible for a talented bird to pick out the best tree."
Jing Zhixue replied quickly, "My opinion differs from others. If I joined a stronger Public House, I would probably lose my place. Furthermore, Master Xiao has a reputation for being honorable. He has a sense of justice and is a strict, straightforward and upright person. I really look up to him, which is why I came here."
"Haha, that is an inaccurate compliment, you flatter me." Xiao Tieying waved his hand as he smiled, regaining a little color on his dark face.
"Did High Official Jing come alone? Or did you come with friends?" smiled Chu Li.
"Sigh… I came by myself. Of course, if I get to stay here, I have a few friends that I would like to invite over eventually." smiled Jing Zhixue.
"Haha, that would be for the best!" Xiao Tieying laughed.
A strange smile hung on Chu Li's face. "If that's the case, let's all start eating, and don't just keep talking!"
"Come, come, enjoy the dishes!" Xiao Tieying's mood was splendid.
He glanced at Chu Li who shook his head.
Although Xiao Tieying was open and straightforward, he was not a fool to trust a Grandmaster that easily. He merely wanted to observe by allowing Chu Li to meet Jing Zhixue. Now that Chu Li was in charge of this portion of the Glory's Will Courtyard, Xiao Tieying could only rely on him after Xiao Qi's departure.
Jing Zhixue returned to his own courtyard and stood outside as he gazed at the bright moon, continuously letting out coarse breaths.
His optimistic expression turned malevolent. He clenched his teeth as he glared at the bright moon. Jing Zhixue sneered and scoffed. "Laugh, laugh while you can, you will be crying soon!"
Jiang Kuai was Chu Li's friend. Hurting him meant disrespecting Chu Li.
If Jing Zhixue apologized to Jiang Kuai and he accepted his apology, Jiang Kuai's supporters would not be happy about it. Everyone would question if it was indeed a good choice to follow him.
If Jiang Kuai does not accept his apology, Jing Zhixue will have left a petty and intolerant impression in front of Master Xiao Tieying. If so, he would have achieved his goals as well!
Hmph, what a young genius, truly a rare find. Watch as I punish you, genius!
Jing Zhixue was going to wait for Chu Li at the Martial Arts Hall tomorrow.
The moment he appeared, Jing Zhixue would force him into a fight as a practice and make a joke out of him. It was useless if you had a high position. If your martial arts skill was weak, the people would still secretly look down on you.
If he was unable to convince the public, it would mean that he would be forced to play it safe when doing things and that he would lose the trust of Master Xiao.
At that moment, the opportunity for him to rise would come!
Jing Zhixue chuckled at that thought, feeling proud and pleased of himself at the same time.
Regardless of how great this genius was, was Chu Li not going to have a hard time against his schemes?!
A lucid picture of Xue Ling's face appeared in his mind, her lithe and graceful body made his heart beat quicker.
Hehe, if Jing Zhixue took Chu Li down, he would use his position to obtain this beauty. He would fool around with her day and night, a leisurely pastime fit for a God!
At that thought, the dense feeling that was accumulated from the feast slowly dispersed. His husky face reverted back to an optimistic expression. Jing Zhixue laughed as he walked into his room.
Chu Li did not go to the Martial Arts Hall for the next few days.
Instead, he stayed on his own island.
If he stayed on the Jade Island Guardian, Chu Li would only be reminded of her whenever he saw something related. It would only make him sadder so he might as well just move into his own island.
All the spirit trees and spirit herbs from the Glory's Will Courtyard were moved to the island along with him.
Song Yuning who had initially lived on this island had now moved to the Iron Eagle Island, both of them were always affectionate together. Chu Li found them brave.
The next evening, Song Yuning was cooking. There was only Xiao Tieying and her so they invited Chu Li to the meal.
After Chu Li returned from the meal, he stayed in the courtyard to research the Seven Forms of Divine Blade. He intended to turn it into a form of swordplay in a single go.